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New insights into possible causes of chronic fatigue syndrome
To this day, chronic fatigue syndrome is still relatively unexplored, and many of those affected often only get a clear diagnosis years later. Now researchers have recently discovered a new possible cause in a study. It has been shown that an overactive immune system could be the cause of chronic fatigue.
In their latest investigation, the scientists at King’s College London found that an overactive immune system appears to be the cause of the chronic fatigue syndrome. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Psychoneuroendocrinology".
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) say that their condition started with a challenge to the immune system, such as an infection. For their study, the experts examined a total of 55 patients with hepatitis C. Eighteen of these patients had an overactive immune system and developed symptoms similar to CFS. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term illness, which is characterized by extreme fatigue.
Those affected had an overactive immune system
The researchers measured the participants' fatigue and various immune markers during and after the treatment. In the 18 patients with CFS-like symptoms, the team found a much stronger immune response to the medication. "Significantly, these same patients had an overactive immune system before starting treatment," say the doctors.
For the first time, the experts were able to prove that people who are susceptible to a CFS-like disease have an overactive immune system, both before and during a challenge to the immune system.
What are the consequences of the disease?
The results suggest that people who show an exaggerated immune response to a trigger are at higher risk of developing CFS. These results are the first step in identifying risk groups and recognizing the disease at an early stage, the scientists explain.
Chronic fatigue or fatigue syndrome is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME. In the UK alone, around 250,000 people are affected by the long-term illness. In addition to severe fatigue, sleep disorders and muscle and joint pain can occur.
Living with ME can be extremely difficult for those affected. Extreme fatigue and other physical symptoms make everyday life much more difficult. Current research supports the evidence that the body's immune system plays an important role in causing ME / CFS, the authors of the study explain. (as)